Ralph Nader speech at the Nader / Camejo 2004 campaign rally in San Francisco. Brief intro by Matt Gonzalez, President of the SF Board of Supervisors.
Robert B. Livingston
December 10, 2005
Synopsis of Speech
Ralph Nader Proves to be Acerbic, Tough, and Committed to Defending the Interests of the People. Against Widespread Media Criticism and Brutal Political Setbacks Nader Fights to Save a Lifetime of Significant Accomplishments which He Sees Eroding Under Systemic Government Negligence.
City Supervisor and Green Party leader Matt Gonzalez introduces Raph Nader to a crowd of about 1,000 people at San Francisco's Mission High School Auditorium on July 16, 2004.
Ralph Nader is an Independent Candidate running for President of the United States in 2004. This is his first public appearance with Peter Camejo as his Vice-Presidential running mate.
He is greeted by enthusiastic applause.
He begins by describing conditions for working families and children in the United States as becoming worse and worse. He states that the Left has given up fighting for progress and are settling for, and profiting by being less worse than the Republicans under George W. Bush. He says that the Democrats take the same positions "especially on the concentration of power" as the Republicans.
He states that the Ralph Nader/Peter Camejo ticket is "pictorially" important because it pulls the two parties in the direction of the People, "while for 24 hours a day the corporations are pulling them in the direction of their interests."
"If their is no Nader/Camejo ticket, if there is no progressive political movement in this country, the pull is going to be only in one direction."
Nader says that our country is held down by the domination of multi-national corporations erecting a corporate globalization scheme of international autocratic government called WTO and NAFTA. He blames avarice and political cowardice for allowing this to happen.
The Nader/Camejo ticket, he says, is running in the tradition of America's historical progressive movements. Like the abolitionist movement that battled slavery, the women's suffrage movement that gave women votes, the trades unionist movements that built the middle class, and the Farmer Populist Progressive Movement that battled railroad and banking monopolies in our early history-- none, he says, ever compromised their goals to "settle for less."
Nader attacks today's liberal intelligentsia for its cowardliness and arrogance. He says its members "presume to tell you that [your efforts to assist the Nader campaign] will help to elect George W. Bush."
"Who elected George W. Bush?' says Nader, referring to the 2000 election. "It was the Democratic Party! Even after they won the election, they blew it!"
Nader charges that the Democrats whine, carp, and scapegoat, and engage in political "dirty tricks" to keep his name off of state ballots. He relates how he personally spoke to his Democratic opponent John Kerry to warn him that he might have a "mini-Watergate" on his hands unless Kerry's operatives desist from their obstructive practices.
Nader mentions how Democratic Party head Art Torres stated how he was determined to keep Nader's name off the California ballot. (At this point, Nader points to signature petitions available to help him get on the California state ballot.)
"In Washington they say that George W. Bush must be defeated because of the War in Iraq. Who voted for the War in Iraq? John Kerry. They say our civil liberties are being sacrificed by the Patriot Act. Who voted for the Patriot Act? Every Democratic Senator except Senator Russ Feingold voted for the Patriot Act."
Nader continues on with a litany of Democratic Party betrayals of the American People for the sake of pleasing their corporate sponsors.
Nader says that all progress in the United States occurred because we subordinated commercial interests for the sake of the public interest, and gives examples. All advances, he says, are now undemocratically subordinated to commercial interests.
"How many times do we have to compare the Democrats to the Republicans before we determine that, yeah, the Republicans are worse, the Democratics are bad, and they both flunk. They flunk. They both flunk. They flunk terribly!"
Nader explains that the corporations and the two parties ridicule the people by making the people believe they are powerless. He points out that the Democrats could have blocked Bush's massive tax cuts for the wealthy, but they didn't.
"They spoke against it-- but they didn't deliver!"
Nader decries how corporations relentlessly target children with unhealthy products. "They call it marketing-- I call it electronic child molestors!" He decries tobacco, and drugs: "Hook them early!" he mocks. "Launder the money through those prestigious banks!"
He continues on about how the people are fleeced hundreds of billions of dollars by corporations that impose bills that seem to be written in code...."Ever try to understand a hospital bill?" He gives more examples of irritating, but hugely profitable corporate bullying.
Nader jokes about automated customer service telephone numbers. One night when he was working late he says that he wanted to hear classical music, so he dialed United Airlines.
He states that binding arbitration agreements even keep people from getting justice for injury, sickness, or death-- because they cannot seek redress in the courts today.
He complains that corporate interests receive government assistance to build mammoth-sized sports stadiums even as schools crumble. He calls the government subsidization and bailouts of corporations "Corporate Socialism."
Nader complains that corporations stand in the way of universal healthcare, in essence saying "Pay, or Die!" He says that 18,000 Americans (or 6 times those that died September 11, 2001 by terrorist attack) die each year for lack of being able to pay for healthcare. He calls it "economic terrorism" against the poor, the deprived, and the children.
He criticizes the commercialization of schools and the use of absurd tests to measure that "no child be left behind."
He charges that corporations do not have a "twinge of respect" for the people who built them into their profitable existence.
Nader derides the liberals that are supposed to defend democracy, "but not this time." Nader asks the audience, then when? There will always be a better and worse party, he says, to threaten agitators and keep other voices silent.
Nader notes General Smedley Butler's expose "War is a Racket" as a book that is still relevant about how corporations abuse the patriotism of the people. He lambasts corporate traitorousness and the illogicality of corporations having rights as "persons" in the courts. He gives examples.
He derides the corruptness and waste of a military budget that is disproportional to the real needs of the people.
He points out how the Israeli peace movement is ignored by the government in a "puppet show" that diverts people's attention from the huge spending involved and that keeps Israel militarized and in perpetual conflict.
Nader turns to recognize Peter Camejo, Matt Gonzalez and others present.
He points out how Peter Camejo speaks fluent Spanish and not the heavily accented "pidgin" Spanish that some flatter George W. Bush for having.
He commends Matt Gonzalez for his integrity and immunity to the temptations of power.
Nader declares how his campaign is laying a foundation for future political movements, and compliments the interest of his supporters and notes their growing numbers. He pledges to campaign and push an agenda for the sake of giving a voice and representation to unrepresented people in the United States.
Nader points out that his campaign does not take corporate or Political Action Committee money contributions: only legally prescribed individual contributions. He declares that he wishes to participate in national presidential debates that are independent, inclusive, and uncorrupted by special interests. He promotes a new debate commision called the Citizen's Debate Commission, noting that their internet address is www.opendebates.org.
Nader emphasizes the need for debate in the country. "Anybody who you hear say to anyone 'Do not run!'-- they are saying: 'Do not speak, do not petition, do not assemble'. They are saying to millions of people that 'we're going to deny you the opportunity to vote for the candidates of your choice because, don't you know, that the voters in this country belong to only two parties!' So, that's another mission-- we've got to break up this two party monopoly once and for all. And let freedom ring! Let freedom ring! Like Martin Luther King-- to be free at last! Free at last! Free, at last!"
Nader concludes by calling his listeners to action, specifically asking them to get involved in the signature petition drive to get the Nader/Camejo names on the state ballot.
Nader quotes Frederick Douglass: "Power concedes nothing without a demand."
He also quotes I.F. Stone: "The only social justice movements worth fighting for are the struggles for justice where you lose, you lose, you lose-- until you win."
"And we're going to win."
(Wild applause from audience.)
Note: A film of this event can be found under Open Source Movies at the Internet Archive under the title Nader / Camejo 2004 campaign kickoff rally in San Francisco. Sadly, it was not available at the Internet Archive until after the election.